News release from Mayor Bill Finch:
Today, mayors from cities across the state of Connecticut joined a conference call to discuss what–if anything–can be done to help kids who have crossed the border from Central America and are in need of temporary housing. The outcome of the call is that a Task Force comprised of city staff member representatives, from several cities across the state, will be created. In response, Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch made the following statement.
“Today’s call was another great step toward finding what, if anything, mayors in Connecticut can do on this front. The reality is that this problem has landed on the doorstep of American mayors. As an adoptee, the father of four kids, and CEO of a city with a strong immigrant population, I know how important to consider any and all options that would help these kids in need. I look forward to working with this Task Force as we continue seeking out options for helping kids in need.
“In Bridgeport, I want to help get these kids to a safer place. But in order for the Park City to even consider serving as a temporary home for any of these kids, we must have assurance that no city taxpayer dollars will be spent on it, and that it does not jeopardize our already overstretched social safety net in Bridgeport.
“Bridgeport city government cannot administer services on this without a guarantee that federal funds will cover any and all costs. But based on our analysis of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services grant, which is the mechanism for receiving reimbursement from the federal government on this front, we are not equipped to put forth a high-quality application by the August 5, 2014 deadline.
“The bottom line is that Bridgeport’s city government cannot administer high-quality services for these kids without federal funds. Federal funds are currently out of reach. But we cannot stop there. We must continue exploring ways to help kids. That said, I’ve had several conversations with our city’s non-profit and religious community. Many of these groups have expressed a willingness to step up and find ways to help shelter a manageable amount of kids in need.
“My administration is willing to do whatever possible to help non-profits and religious groups who can provide these kids in need with the safe and secure shelter these kids deserve.”